We actually slept in till 7:00 this morning and we met Gary & Nancy for breakfast at 8:00. There is an I-hop on the ground floor of the motel, which is kinda handy. We were gonna all leave at 9:00 to ride to the Wall together as a group. We fell a few minutes short of that departure time but we found our group parked on the lawn close to the Vietnam Wall memorial.
We all walked over as a group and found the panels where the names were of the people whose pictures and biography we were carrying across country to pay tribute to. Terry Mooney, from back home in Roseburg, met his wife, Linda, and their daughter, Chris, at Arlington yesterday. They had been there for a couple of days before our arrival and had time to do some sightseeing before our group got there. Chris bought a MIA/POW bracelet to remember one of the MIA’s. What a shock it was when Terry showed his daughter the picture and the name of the guy that he was riding for. It was the same guy! What are the odds of that happening? Of all of the ones that she could have chosen, it was the same name that her dad was looking at for 10 days on our journey….
We always choose a fallen soldier to dedicate the ride to. It is usually someone from close to the Wall gang’s home town of Michigan City, Indiana. This years ride was dedicated to PFC Michael E. Kelly. We found his name on the wall and said a few words. His brother in law joined us on the ride at Michigan City, Indiana.
It was a very emotional scene for all of us there. Seeing the raw emotion that is expressed just by being at the Wall, is something that can not be put into words. I personally did not know any of the people whose names are on the wall, nor will I ever know the level of emotional pain that Veterans and relatives and friends of our fallen hero’s feel as they take in all that there is to try to comprehend by being there. I have a tremendous amount of respect for each and every one of the people that are personally affected in different ways, just by being at the wall. I hear some talk about a feeling of closure when they are finally able to be there in person. Others talk to the person whose name is forever etched in the granite panels form all to remember. Still there are some who can’t bring themselves to go near the wall, for fear of their past demons, that have not yet been put to rest. Buzz told of the first time, a few years ago, when he escorted Bart, to the wall for Bart’s first ever visit there. Bart went right to the panel he knew his friends were on. As soon as he saw their names, he started to beat the wall with his fists….We got word that Bart died only four days ago on Tuesday.
We then went to another memorial and saw a few Norwegian soldiers dressed in uniform and they did a dedication and a thank you for Americas help. It was a very heart felt dedication. One of them gave me a pin with the American flag and a Norwegian flag put together. That is very fitting as my dad was full blooded Norwegian, which makes me half.
After that experience we went over to the Korean War Memorial. There was a Korean war Veteran standing there. We went over to talk to him and thank him for his service. He told us of countless friends that never made it back from there. He explained about why there are 19 large figures in different poses looking as if they were marching into another unknown battlefield with looks of frightful concern on their faces. If you look into the reflection of the granite walls to the left of the 19 statues, you see their reflections giving the sense that there 38 of them. Korea is at the 38th parallel. If you look at the layout from the flag pole, it is laid out at exactly 38 degrees. There is water on both sides of the beginning of the memorial, due to the fact that Korea is a peninsula with water on both sides of it. That Veteran of the Korean war might come there to explain about the memorial for a sense of closure, or perhaps guilt that he survived and a lot of his friends didn’t. One never knows what wounds are deep inside our Veterans that have seen things beyond our comprehension.
Joni & I and Gary & Nancy stayed in town and around noon we rode over to the DC Rambler’s clubhouse. When we got there it was very different. They sold it to a church
group. We were the only ones there in the parking lot aside from a guy with a video camera waiting to film us all riding in. While I was doing an impromptu interview for the camera, we were joined by a few of the DC Ramblers, who just rode in, to explain that we were going to the fire hall for lunch. Our main group showed up a few minutes later with a lot more bikes. The pastor of the new church showed up with a few of the Deacons of the church and proceeded to guide us in prayer for our safety as we all
go on about our riding missions. We then did a group ride to the fire dept. The first little guy I saw was 8 year old Brenden, who took a liking to me and the rat bike every year over my 6 year history with this ride. It took some time as the first time he saw us in ’06, he would not even get close to the bike. A couple of years later he finally got on the bike for pictures. This time he got on and I took him for a ride around the parking lot. I have a friend for life! He presented me with a fire hydrant guardian bell to hang on my bike.
He looked real cool in his little fireman’s turnouts. We all went inside for lunch and conversation. A few of our group left from there to ride home.
A few of us then rode to the party at the Fort Washington Harley dealership. It was another great reception for the rat bike. A lot of people came over for pictures and conversation right away. People were glad to see that it is still on the road. After Joni finished her shopping we headed back. We were stopped at a red light and saw an ice cream shop, with a sign saying “since 1954″. Joni pointed that out and said, ” look, that’s the year you were born!” We just had to pull in for a treat. After our refreshments we rode back to the motel, where Nancy ordered pizza to be delivered to their room. We joined them for dinner and then it was time to go back and pack up and go to bed for another riding day tomorrow.
A lot of the crew is staying to do the protest parade and leave to ride to the pentagon parking lot at 6:00 am. Joni and I are leaving tomorrow morning to go to South Carolina to visit with her parents and sister. Gary & Nancy might ride with us for a while, or they might……
It’s late so goodnight and more pictures will be here tomorrow.